NORMAN — Tiny hands raised in the air as one large hand of an NFL quarterback gave out high fives.
Former Sooners star Sam Bradford smiled as a ring of boys and girls waited for encouragement. They patiently stood in their grey shirts, high socks and eye black, with their arms stretched, as their parents snapped photos from the sideline.
This was Day 1 of The Old Spice Sam Bradford Football ProCamp, a two-day camp that caters to kids. Sprinkled in with 30 of the area's top prep football coaches and Bradford were some of his St. Louis Rams' teammates like Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and Danny Amendola, all out to help the kids.
“Norman's a place I love,” Bradford said as he watched the camp from a tent during a break. “I went to a ton of camps around the city. I remember coming down here for OU football and basketball camps.
“I remember those really being the highlights of my summer and I just really hope these kids are able to come out here and learn some things from me and my teammates, but also just to have fun.”
Amendola, a former wide receiver at Texas Tech, was glad to join Bradford on Sooner Turf, even with the history of the two programs.
“When we'd usually come here, we'd lose but given I say that, we'd win when they came to Lubbock,” Amendola said laughing. “But really, it's good to help him with his camp. … I'm a rival, but there's more than that when you're trying to help kids.”
The campers ran drills and caught passes, but they learned more than just x's and o's or how to become a future Heisman-trophy winner. Bradford, or Coach Bradford as he was called at the camp, taught the campers three important things about the game: to encourage people and say good job, to have good sportsmanship and that teamwork is always the answer.
“It was cool earlier; we were going through quarterback stations and just getting out there and talking to them about throwing on the run and handoffs and things that it takes to play quarterback,” Bradford said. “Some of them were pretty excited. It's always cool to see that reaction.”
A little more than two weeks have passed since Bradford was making news for a $500,000 donation to his alma mater, only two years after leaving to play in the NFL. The donation went to the dining hall, which will be known as the Sam Bradford Training Table, in Headington Hall, the new student housing facility planned to open in fall 2013. So far, Bradford hasn't discussed any menu, but he's hoping to add a favorite snack or two.
“The dining facility is something that I really wanted to see improve,” he said. “The older I've gotten the more I've realized how important it is to put the right things in your body. Our eating facility was great when I was here but I always think that there is room for improvement. The better it is, the better chance the athletes here have at playing at a higher level.”
As the sun blazed and the Cupid Shuffle blared from the sound system, some campers danced in line as they waited to run their route, a route thrown to them by NFL quarterback Sam Bradford.